AP NEWS

Forecast: Montana could regain House seat lost 30 years ago

December 31, 2019 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Nearly 30 years after losing a seat in the U.S. House, Montana could regain it following the 2020 U.S. Census, officials with The Brookings Institution and Election Data Services forecast.

Montana’s resident population has grown from 989,400 in 2010 to an estimated 1.069 million in July, according to figures released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Montana lost one of its two U.S. House seats after the 1990 U.S. Census and has had just one member in the 435-member body since 1993.

Election Data Services forecasts Montana will get the 435th seat — by a margin of just a couple thousand people — when the House seats are distributed following the 2020 Census.

“Most of the scuttlebutt we have been hearing from interested parties has been increasingly positive on prospects for a second seat,” Jeff Essman, a member of Montana’s Districting and Apportionment Commission, told told The Billings Gazette.

“But Montana should not be complacent as there is always a fight when it comes to power and money, which is why the commission is encouraging every Montanan to respond to the census,” Essman said. “Please answer on the number of people in the house, even if you don’t want to answer the rest of the nosy questions, is what I am advising.”

In 2010, Montana narrowly missed receiving a second U.S. House seat while Rhode Island retained two because its population was a few thousand more than Montana’s. Rhode Island is projected to lose its second House seat based on the 2019 population estimates.

William Frey, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, said population estimates indicate Texas could gain three seats and Florida could gain two.

Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Oregon are other states that could gain a seat in the U.S. House. Ten states are forecast to lose a seat, including California for the first time, Frey said.

The 2020 Census will count residents as of April 1. The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the president and Congress in December 2020. States will have the information to start redrawing districts, if necessary, by March 31, 2021, the Census Bureau said.

Billions of dollars in federal aid are distributed to states based on population.